How often do you eat out? During our two weeks in Gulf Shores, we ate out seven times! We did have a couple special days to celebrate. And those seven times included one breakfast, three lunches, two dinners, and one dessert event. While I’m sure there are numerous posts about eating out in Gulf Shores, I can’t help but add mine to the menu.
Our first dinner out was at Longhorn Steakhouse. Okay, okay, I know it’s lame. But it was my birthday, and well, we like Longhorn. The service and food quality were, as usual, up to Longhorn’s standards which is excellent. I included this choice in the post, one for completeness, and secondly, so people know there is a Longhorn in Gulf Shores, should they be so inclined. The rest of our choices are local, not chains, I promise.
Next, on the list, is breakfast out at “Foodcraft.” This is the state park’s restaurant by the lodge. At night, this restaurant is called “The Perch.” The name on the receipt is “The Lodge at Gulf State Park.” A bit confusing, but it doesn’t matter. The view is spectacular.
We ate breakfast outside on the terrace on a day when the weather was perfect. There is a breakfast buffet which ends at 11 am; however, we ordered breakfast off the menu. We had the “big breakfast” – three eggs, one side, sausage or bacon. My side was one piece of toast with butter and jelly. I also ordered a side of fresh fruit – which was delicious, and we each had a soda. The service was excellent; although, I must say, twice the waiter asked me if I wanted rum in my diet coke. Once more and I would have felt I was on a cruise where alcohol is very profitable and thus heavily promoted. But I digress.
Back on track. Bottom line, wonderful breakfast. Including the $10 tip, our bill for the meal was $57.30. Probably the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten, but it was a special day for us.
We ate two lunches at “The Pier” snack bar. It’s a beautiful spot and a bit more casual. Our first lunch was a hot dog, chips and a soda. We were hungry, and it hit the spot. The hot dogs were large and very good. That lunch cost $14.30. Not bad, considering where we were and the beautiful view.
The second lunch we ate at “The Pier”, we ordered from the “Bywater Beachside”, kind of a tiki bar right across from the snack bar. We didn’t realize food was available there on our previous day. This time, I had a chicken quesadilla, and Dan had a chicken sandwich and chips. Two sodas, too. This time the bill was $31.90. The food was really good, and we got two plastic souvenir cups. Woo hoo! Even though the lunch was double the cost of our hot dog lunch, it still wasn’t bad considering the good food and the great view. No extra charge for the fabulous weather.
One note about parking at the pier. While we were there, the park began charging for parking at its beach points, including the beach pavilion, the lodge, and the pier. However, if you camp, you can park for free as long as your camping tag is displayed on your car’s dashboard. There is also a fee to walk the pier which is waived if you have a camping tag.
Our first visit to the pier, we walked the entire pier and enjoyed it. On our second visit, a stand was set up charging $2 to walk the pier beyond the point where food is ordered. As a side note, veterans are not charged. Thank you for your service.
But in order for us to walk the pier this day, they told us we needed a picture on our phone of our camping tag. However, we had taken the tram there, so obviously, our car was not in the parking lot. I probably shouldn’t write this, but we could have easily walked back to the parking lot, taken a picture of any camping tag, gone back and walked the pier. Not that I would ever do that. Seriously, I would not.
We told the young man we were campers, even so, he would not allow us to walk the pier. Since we had already walked to the end of what is left of the pier after the hurricane, it wasn’t a big deal to skip it this time. The point of all this isn’t how to save $2 (or $4 if there’s two of you or more if a family), but rather that the park needs a better system to identify campers, so they are not charged when they shouldn’t be. And until then, take a picture of your camping tag. Oh oh. I digress. Again.
Back to the food. Our second dinner out was at the “Sunliner Diner” a fifties style restaurant one can’t miss when driving into Gulf Shores. The outside reminded me of a book I used to read to my children, “Frank and Ernest” – the delightful story of a bear and an elephant who run a diner. There I go, digressing again, but it was worth it as that book is the best!
In any case, the food fare with the fifties motif was fun and filling. Now, upon entering the restaurant, there is a red, convertible car available for dining. It was filled with a family finishing their food and having fun. We sat in a booth which was fine for us. The food was very good, and the service was excellent. The house dressing on my salad was particularly tasty. The onion rings were quite good, too. My steak was pretty good, though not up to Longhorn’s standard, so I would probably choose something else next time. Dan said his chicken sandwich was very good. Our bill was $46.13 plus a $10 tip.
Next to “The Sunliner” is “Ritas of Gulf Shores“, where we went for ice cream, which technically was frozen custard. Dan had a chocolate sundae and I had a “kids” cone which is two scoops on an upgraded waffle cone. My favorite flavor, mint chocolate chip, was not offered, so I roughed it and chose one scoop of mint/oreo and one scoop of coffee/oreo. I really liked the coffee/oreo choice, a first for me. Our two treats totaled $12.35.
The final entree in my post is “The Gulf.” I’m talking about a restaurant here, not the Gulf of Mexico. “The Gulf” is an outside restaurant/bar made from shipping containers. The idea of repurposed shipping containers is very appealing to me – which is why I wanted to go there in the first place. The view of the gulf, flanked by the bridge leading into Perdido Key, was a beautiful, happening scene. The music playing was perfect, too. They were playing the song “If I Had a Million Dollars”, and I felt like I did.
Lastly, “The Gulf” has fun seating options and some outside games, like bean bag toss, to enjoy as well. I bet this place is packed at times. Since it was lunch, and we don’t usually eat much, we split a fish sandwich and fries. Our bill, including two sodas, was $28.05. And, like any of the restaurants I wrote about, we would definitely go back. How about you?